Russell T. Stokes
General Manager, Global Sourcing Supply Chain Division • General Electric Co. • Cincinnati, Ohio • Age: 36
When facing challenges, Russell T. Stokes often thinks of his family. “Whatever challenges or difficulties I’ve faced over time are nothing compared to what my father had to go through to support his family,” Stokes says. His father, Troy Stokes, was an engineer at General Motors Corp. in Parma, Ohio, a segregated and racist commu-nity. He lost his hearing at the age of 17. “As a deaf African-American man, he faced challenges every day, but he woke up each day and faced it all and never made excuses,” Stokes says.
His mother, Bernice Stokes, and maternal grandmother, Estella Ball, emphasized the importance of education, sacrifice, accountability and inner strength. His mother earned a Ph.D. in education while attending school at night, working full time and raising a family. “My mother is the source of my competitive drive. She taught me that I could do anything that I was truly willing and committed to do,” Stokes says. His grandmother, who overcame alcoholism, died of breast cancer on Stokes’s 21st birthday. “My grandmother took on each challenge with grace,” Stokes says. “I learned we should focus on what we can and should do with our lives versus being focused on what has been ‘done’ to us.”
Stokes graduated magna cum laude from Cleveland State University with a degree in finance. As general manager of global sourcing for the Supply Chain Division of General Electric’s aviation business, he is responsible for $7 billion in global procurement. His wife, Lisa, with whom he has three children, has played an important role in his career success. “We are a team when it comes to raising our family and creating a good life. She is the rock who cheers me on, and she also reminds me to get over myself if ever things are going to my head,” he says.